Build Me A Building As Fast As You Can

Not your average game of patty-cake! Earlier this week, New York’s  First Department, Appellate Division issued its decision related to 200 Amsterdam,[1] overturning the lower court’s decision which would have required 200 Amsterdam to remove several floors of its building in order to comply with zoning.  The lower court determined that the NYC Zoning Resolution did not permit a developer to utilize a portion of a tax lot to merge with a neighboring zoning lot. Continue Reading

Southern California Counties To Adopt Major Housing Production Targets

In March, the Southern California Association of Governments (“SCAG”)[1] will adopt final Regional Housing Needs Assessment (“RHNA”) allocations for cities and counties within the SCAG region.  This 6th RHNA cycle represents the first update to these targets since the passage of key housing legislation, including Senate Bill (“SB”) 35[2], which grants ministerial approval and streamlining of qualifying housing projects if the jurisdiction has failed to meet its RHNA targets.  Housing developers planning for potential investment can look to these production targets to assess regional and city-based needs.  Cities and counties also will update their Housing Element and other planning documents to address the need. Continue Reading

California Senate Returns Its Focus to Housing in 2021-2022 Legislative Session

The new 2021-2022 California legislative session has kicked off with the Senate’s “Building Opportunities for All” housing package, its latest effort to tackle zoning and California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) reforms in an effort to address California’s ongoing housing crisis.  “Each one of these bills is targeted at an element of the housing crisis, and together, they give us a unified approach that would create pathways to home ownership, stable housing for vulnerable families, and a pathway to economic stability for Californians across the golden state,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins when announcing the housing package. As anticipated in our summary of new legislation effective in 2021, this housing package builds upon the housing production bills from the previous legislative session that failed to pass out of committee or gain concurrence votes before the session ended.  Given that many of the bills replicate language from the failed 2020 housing legislation, the senators appear confident that more of these bills will be approved in this new session. Continue Reading

California Legislature Extends Residential Eviction Moratorium and Implements Rental Assistance Program for Landlords and Tenants

Effective February 1, 2021, the California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom approved  Senate Bill (“SB”) 91 – Eviction Protection and Relief Act in further response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  In essence, SB 91 extends core tenant protections established by August 2020’s Assembly Bill (“AB”) 3088,[1] but also establishes the State Rental Assistance Program, provides rental assistance for landlords and tenants, and closes existing loopholes in AB 3088. Continue Reading

City Planning Holds First Public Hearing for its Citywide Hotel Special Permit Text

In follow up to the New York City Department of City Planning’s (DCP), January 22nd, public hearing on the Draft Scope of Work for the City’s proposed Hotel Special Permit text amendment, there were several speakers both in support of and in opposition to the proposed legislation.  Of note, were five elected officials who testified in support of the Hotel Special Permit, with a unified message, that the development of hotels takes away opportunities for affordable housing in this City, and therefore, hotels must be regulated at a higher level than other uses.  Generally, the opposition cited to the City’s failure to provide a land use rationale for the Draft Scope of Work, the lack of any defined issue or specific policy objective that this proposed Hotel Special Permit seeks to address and the potential impact of the proposed Hotel Special Permit on the City’s economic recovery. Continue Reading

New York Moves Further Toward Implementation of Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act with Final Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits for 2030 and 2050

On December 30, 2020, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (the “Department”) promulgated statewide ambient limits on greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions for the years 2030 and 2050 (the “Regulations”).[1]  The GHGs covered by the Regulations include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons.[2]  The final Regulations constitute a critical step in the implementation of New York State’s climate strategy set out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”). Continue Reading

California Housing Legislation Effective in 2021

The California Legislature made modest gains on housing production and stimulus bills in 2020, and there are several notable bills that took effect on January 1, 2021.  The new laws tackle COVID-19, project permit streamlining and planning, residential density bonus, and the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).  Below is a summary of these new laws. Continue Reading

NY Court of Appeals Decides Who Gets Access to Required “Open Space”

This past week, in a 4 to 3 decision,  New York’s highest court – the Court of Appeals – decided an important New York City land use question regarding how “open space” is accessed by residents on a zoning lot with multiple buildings In the Matter of Randy Peyton, et al v. NYC Board of Standards and Appeals, et al.  This rollercoaster ride ended with the Court of Appeals overturning the First Department, Appellate Division’s decision, and ultimately agreeing with the NYC Department of Buildings original application of the law, which was affirmed by the quasi-judicial NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).  The Court of Appeals determined that open space available for use by residents of one building, such as a rooftop garden, does not need to be accessed by residents in other buildings when the buildings are part of a single zoning lot in order to satisfy zoning “open space” requirements, putting to rest this controversial question. Continue Reading

City Planning Announces Citywide Hotel Special Permit Text

The New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) has scheduled a public scoping meeting for Friday January 22, 2021 for the Citywide Hotel Text Amendment. The Citywide Hotel Text Amendment seeks to establish a new City Planning Commission special permit for new and enlarged transient hotels, motels, tourist cabins, and boatels in districts where such uses are currently allowed as-of-right, including C1, C2, C4, C5, C6, C8, Mixed-Use (MX), and paired M1/R districts.  The new hotel special permit would require new hotels and other transient uses to go through ULURP, the city’s land use review process. The proposed text amendment would retain existing regulations for hotels in M1 districts where a special permit was previously adopted in December 2018.  The draft scoping materials state that DCP is also evaluating changes to the Zoning Resolution’s discontinuance provisions for existing commercial hotels in all zoning districts citywide, to consider allowing hotels that are currently closed due to conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic to retain their legal transient use status, as-of-right, until after demand recovers. Continue Reading

NYC Council Announces Land Use Overhaul

The New York City Council, under Speaker Corey Johnson, announced this week the release of a proposal for “A New Comprehensive Planning Framework for New York City,” to support equitable, inclusive growth, and citing the City’s current “planning framework, or lack thereof, [as being] inherently flawed.”  The report was released in tandem with legislation introduced by Speaker Johnson at the Council’s December 17 stated meeting (Int 2186-2020), requiring a 10 year comprehensive planning cycle. Continue Reading

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